After Nearly 3 Months Nebraska Fort Calhoun nuclear plant ends flood emergency alert

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Officials say an idled Nebraska nuclear plant that was entirely surrounded by Missouri River floodwaters earlier this summer is no longer under a flood emergency.

Maybe you were one of the many Americans who watched our nations nuclear power stations suffer one of the hardest summers ever.  Flooding, earthquakes, jellyfish, and a hurricane are some of the few obstacles that faced utilities.

For Calhoun entered the low-level emergency status called a “notification of unusual event” because of the flooding on June 6. The status was officially lifted Monday at 1:42 p.m.

Fort Calhoun has been shut down since April because it was being refueled before the flooding began. It’s not clear when it will restart because officials haven’t been able to determine what repairs are needed.

The Missouri River’s floodwaters have begun to recede but the river may not return to within its banks until sometime in September or October. There has been flooding along the river since June because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been releasing massive amounts of water into the river to deal with unexpectedly heavy spring rains and mountain snowpack.

Workers have already begun removing some flood barriers and disassembling the elevated catwalks workers used to cross the flooded parking lot.

Officials say the nuclear power station that was entirely surrounded by Missouri River floodwaters earlier this summer is no longer under a flood emergency.  After flood waters rose up to the front door, a berm collapsed, the breach allowed Missouri River flood waters to reach containment buildings and transformers and forcing the shutdown of electrical power.

The river near the plant fell to 1003.5 feet above sea level Monday. The main power plant buildings are at 1,004 feet above sea level.

At the height of the flooding, the Missouri River rose up to 1,006 feet above sea level. That forced OPPD to erect a network of barriers and set up an assortment of pumps to help protect its buildings. But the plant remained dry inside, and officials said Fort Calhoun could withstand flooding up to 1,014 feet above sea level.

Omaha Public Power District spokesman Jeff Hanson said the Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant about 20 miles north of Omaha ended its low-level flood emergency Monday.

The river near the plant has fallen to a half-foot below the elevation of the plant’s main buildings. Workers already have begun removing some flood barriers and disassembling the elevated catwalks workers used to cross the flooded parking lot.

Fort Calhoun has been shut down since April because it was being refueled before the flooding began. It’s not clear when it will restart because officials haven’t been able to determine what repairs are needed.

Floodwater has begun to recede, but the river may not return to within its banks until September or October. There has been flooding along the river since June because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been releasing massive amounts of water into the river to deal with unexpectedly heavy spring rains and mountain snowpack.

“We have a great deal of work to do before we start generating power,” said Dave Bannister, OPPD’s chief nuclear officer. “First and foremost, we must check for any hidden damage that the water on site may have caused, so that we are certain we will operate safely.”

Nebraska’s other nuclear power plant, Cooper Nuclear, was also under a similar low-level flood emergency status for a time, but that plant near Brownville, Neb., was able to end its alert in July. Cooper, which is run by the Nebraska Public Power District, is more elevated above the river than Fort Calhoun.

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